Oct 12 marks 46 years of independence from Spain for the west central African country of Equatorial Guinea. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the country pre and post colonization:
1. Only Spanish colony in Africa
Spain only had one colony in Africa, Equatorial Guinea. They relinquished control on Oct 12, 1968, which is relatively early by 20th century African independence statistics.
2. Pygmies first inhabitants
The original inhabitants of this coastal region just south of West Africa are believed to be Pygmies. They were followed by Bantu migrants starting in the 17th century.
3. Original colonists
Fernao do Po, an explorer from Portugal looking for a path to India, is credited with being the first European to set foot on modern day Equatorial Guinea territory in the late 1400s.
4. Spanish takeover
In 1778 the region was ceded to Spain in a treaty between Queen Maria I of Portugal and King Charles III of Spain. It was called the Treaty of El Pardo.
5. Ruled from Buenos Aires
At the end of the 18th century, during which Spain competed with Britain for a slave source, Equatorial Guinea was administered by the Buenos Aires-based Rio da la Plata Viceroyalty.
6. Spanish rule continues
Spanish rule continued in some form or another for another couple hundred years.
7. Independence movement begins
The independence movement began to come together at the end of 1967, after the Spanish government suspended autonomous political control.
8. New Constitution proposed
By the summer of 1967, with the approval of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), a new constitution had been drafted and then approved on Aug 11. Parlimentary elections followed in September and a proclamation of independence was delivered, and granted, on Oct. 12, 1968.
9. Post independence
Life hasn’t been rosy since independence. However, a series of dictators have ruled ever since. The current leader has been in control since 1979.
10. How it’s celebrated
Independence day — which coincidentally is the same day much of the rest of the world celebrates Columbus Day — is celebrated with a parade through the streets of the capital, Malabo. The festivities vary by year, but can include beauty contestants as pictured above from 2013’s celebration.
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